The Altadena Library decided to spearhead this initiative as part of “Libraries Transforming Communities” (an American Library Association initiative), which seeks to strengthen libraries' roles as community leaders and agents of change using the Harwood Institute's Turning Outward approach to community engagement. The Turning Outward approach involves asking key questions to determine the community’s aspirations, and bringing together diverse and skilled teams to help make those dreams a reality. Libraries around the country are using the approach to better understand their communities and to bring about positive change. More information about this initiative can be found on the American Library Association website at www.ALA.org.
We are already using the information we have gained to make changes to how we interact with our community. For example we have made a landmark decision to improve our operations and be more welcoming to all patrons, by implementing changes like eliminating fines. We are looking forward to revising our operating documents and strategic plan to reflect what we have learned from this process. We also look forward to continuing these conversations; this process doesn't end here. The joy of operating an independent library district is that it can be shaped into anything the community needs and desires. Congratulations to the community of Altadena for working together to make Altadena Library the best it can be!
A HUGE thank you to Library staff who helped power the Community Conversations, the project staff, Chloé Cavelier d’Esclavelles and Brian Biery, our many generous hosts in the community who opened their homes, businesses, and organizations to their neighbors, and all our willing participants who gave up their precious time to engage with neighbors and sometimes total strangers to better the community.